Child Support

Child Support

Child Support Definition

Child Support, financial contribution paid by a noncustodial or absentee parent to a custodial parent toward the expenses of raising his or her children. (1)


“Society has long had an interest in establishing a childÂ’s paternity, an interest -said, in the article “FATHERHOOD BY CONSCRIPTION: NONCONSENSUAL INSEMINATION AND THE DUTY OF CHILD SUPPORT”, Michael J. Higdon – driven primarily”,maybe among other things, “by the desire to provide support for children -said Donald C. Hubin in “Daddy Dilemmas: Untangling the Puzzles of Paternity, 13 CORNELL J.L. & PUB. POLÂ’Y 29, 30 (2003)- without making excessive demands on the public coffers and the hope of reducing the incidence of irresponsible procreative behavior.” But, in the early common law, however, an illegitimate child was considered to be “filius nullius,” the child of no one. In the same sense, HARI DEV KOHLI, in “LAW AND ILLEGITIMATE CHILD: FROM SASTRIK LAW TO STATUTORY LAW”, published in 2003, wrote that the “incapacity of a bastard consists principally in this, that he cannot be
heir to any one, neither can he have heirs, but his own body; for, being ‘nullius filius,Â’ he is
therefore of kin to nobody, and has no ancestor from whom any inheritable blood can be

As such, not only could the child not inherit from either parent, but she also had a very limited right to support from her father, as described in DOMESTIC RELATIONS: CASES AND PROBLEMS 229 (Homer H. Clark, Jr. & Ann Laquer Estin eds., 2005), which continues: “It is also often asserted that illegitimate children had no right to support from their fathers, but historical research indicates that there were ecclesiastical remedies by which fathers could be and were
ordered to support their illegitimate children.”

Indeed, “the common law contained no obligation for maintenance of bastards -said MARTHA ALBERTSON FINEMAN, THE NEUTERED MOTHER, THE SEXUAL FAMILY AND OTHER TWENTIETH CENTURY TRAGEDIES 79 (1995)-until the enactment of the Elizabethan Poor Laws in the sixteenth century,”31 which “authorized towns to sue nonsupporting fathers in order to reimburse public aid.”32 Daniel L. Hatcher, Child Support Harming Children: Subordinating the Best Interests of Children to the Fiscal Interests of the State, 42 WAKE FOREST L. REV. 1029, 1037 (2007); see also FINEMAN, supra note 31, at 79-80 (“These laws, which imposed a duty of
maintenance on mothers as well as fathers, were explicitly designed to relieve the parish of
economic responsibility for children.”).

In contrast, the early American colonies, in what has been described as a “legal innovation,” passed bastardy laws that affirmatively required fathers to support their illegitimate children, at least by FINEMAN (see above) and Drew D. Hansen, (Note, The American Invention of
Child Support: Dependency and Punishment in Early American Child Support Law, 108
YALE L.J. 1123, 1144 (1999). As Professor Daniel Hatcher notes, the bastardy laws were in
addition to “poor laws and criminal nonsupport laws.” Hatcher, supra note 32, at 1038. Of
course, child support obligations extended not only to illegitimate children, but to the
children of divorce as well.

As Professor Daniel Hatcher (see above) describes, “[a]s early as 1808, courts began to order noncustodial parents to pay financial support [to mothers and children] . . . . By the 1930s, almost all states had such child support statutes.” In the same see also Donna Schuele, Origins and Development of the Law of Parental Child Support, 27 J. FAM. L. 807, 821, 834-35 (1988-1989) (discussing the history of child support laws).

Shortly thereafter, the federal government became increasingly involved in the issue of child support. The first step was taken in 1950, when “an amendment to the (United States) Social Security Act require[ed] state welfare agencies to notify law enforcement officials when a
family received Aid to Families with Dependent Children” (AFDC) on behalf of an abandoned or deserted child.35 AFDC was “created to enable each state and jurisdiction to provide -said SANDRA J. NEWMAN & ANN B. SCHNARE, SUBSIDIZING SHELTER: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN WELFARE AND HOUSING ASSISTANCE 117 (1988)- a minimum standard of living to needy dependent children and, in some cases, to their caretakers.” Subsequent amendments would increase the ability of these state agencies “to obtain the address and employment information of noncustodial parents -said Hatcher- and required states to create single government units to pursue child support on behalf of children receiving AFDC.”

In this Section

Child Abuse, Child Abuse Types, Child Abuse Prevalence, Child Abuse Causes (including Intergenerational Transmission of Violence, Social Stress, Social Isolation and Family Structure), Child Abuse Effects, Child Abuse Reporting (including Abused Children Care and Children Prevention and Treatment Programs) and Child Support.

Child Support Guidelines in Canadian Procedural Law

Find materials in the Canadian legal Encyclopedia that anlyze Child Support Guidelines.

Child Support


See Also

  • Marriage
  • Family
  • Alimony


See Also

  • Nonsupport


Notes and References

  1. Encarta Online Encyclopedia

See Also

Child Abuse Causes
Child Abuse
Child Abuse Types
Child Abuse Reporting
Child Abuse Prevalence
Child Abuse Effects
Family Structure
Abused Children Care
Children Prevention And Treatment Programs
Social Isolation

Welcome a Child

Child Support, Sexual Behaviour and the Law

Further Reading



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